I am challenged every year to decorate for a holiday in the least-expensive way possible. This year’s challenge was extended by Sarah over at Geeks Who Eat. She asked that I show how to transform dollar items into chic and stylish Halloween decorations. I went a little farther, and because cheap is the operative word for this post, I made several that can double as Autumn decorations as well.
My first stop was Target. I adore their dollar bins by the entrance, but this time much of what I found would require quite a bit of prep work, or already looked chic enough to be on my mantle. Needless to say, I bought a couple of strands of LED lights. If you don’t know by now, I can’t go into a Target without buying something, and I consider getting out of there for under $25 a personal victory. This time, I left with my $6 in string lights, and headed for the nearest Dollar Tree.
If you aren’t already shopping at your closest Dollar Tree, you are seriously missing out. There are enough good deals there to keep me going back. It’s where I get my parchment paper, and my seasonal photo props. Even a few of their craft items are a better deal than a 70%-off sale at Michael’s. Plus, if you have really lean months, they do have brand-name (trusted) soaps and medicines. This store was a lifesaver when I was still struggling day-to-day. Because of that, I know where to get inexpensive and cute accouterments. Sidenote: not every Dollar Tree sells the same items, so feel free to venture past your neighborhood. There might be some really great stuff in another place.
This trip to the Dollar Tree didn’t prove incredibly fruitful. They were short on things I could use to decorate, probably because I started a little later than normal, and they already had their Christmas decorations out. I was able to find some acorns, a Styrofoam pumpkin, and a plastic skull.
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Housekeeping: I don’t take pictures of EVERY step. I find that overloading my posts with pictures makes them tedious. My hope is that I describe each step well enough that you can do it without a visual, or that you contact me with any questions.
First, I cleaned the items off with a little rubbing alcohol. It primes the surface and helps the paint adhere, in most instances. This is especially important if you’re doing glass work or live in a humid environment like South Florida.
I put the acorns on toothpicks, so that I could spin them around as I painted them without getting my fingers super-messy, and so that they could dry evenly as they stood on their own.
I used fine-grain sandpaper to take the seams off, and a nail buffer to get rid of the scratch marks.
I primed every piece with 2 coats of quick-drying white acrylic paint* . This is a necessary step in any repainting. Priming the surface gives you a fresh canvas (so to speak), even if you plan to go with similar colors. Priming will prevent any color or material bleed into your new work. *The link is just to show you what I use. I am not a Michael’s affiliate (yet). I looked for the same product on Amazon, and they want $4+ per-bottle, instead of $0.79.
After the primer had dried, I chose to go with a pearl white acrylic. I put 2 coats on each piece.
I let it all dry overnight, and put the detail on them the following evening. *BONUS* These took less-than 24-hours to complete, and that’s taking into account someone working full-time outside the home or having children to work around.
I love my oil-based paint markers, and luckily I didn’t leave them at my mom’s house before the move. I chose silver for detail, but you can use anything you think is chic. I have a girlfriend who loves the trendy white/gold and white/black gloss looks. I’m a freak for silver, and think it makes everything look more refined.
You can use a spray sealant at this point, though I didn’t this time. A few weeks into the holiday, even with my roommate’s cat batting them around, they are still in great shape.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments, and pin to use later.